Thursday, August 17, 2017

I'll Push You

I'll Push You: A Journey of 500 miles, Two Best Friends, and One Wheelchair *****
by Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck

Overview: This is a story about the friendship between two men. The book follows their trek across the mountains of Spain and is sprinkled through with flashbacks of their life-long friendship. The chapters switch back and forth between the two guys writing.

Patrick and Justin had always gone on crazy adventures together, but then Justin started to lose the use of his legs due to a disease. It didn't take long for Justin to be completely paralyzed. But neither Justin or Patrick gave up their sense of adventure. Instead, they tackled this incredible journey.

Positive elements: Clear, well-written, sweet story of friendship. The guys share light-hearted stories of their childhood, describe the amazing trek, introduce us to fellow sojourners, and also share very serious, personal struggles they've faced.

Negative elements: Some of the childhood stories got a bit boring. I felt like they were kind of trying to make the book a bit longer.

Conclusion: I really loved how at the end of the book they talked about not just wishing you did fun things with your friends and family but actually going out and making memories. I probably can't go with a friend or my family on an overseas adventure, and film a documentary, but I can take the time to make some great memories with the wonderful friends and family I have been blessed with right here at home.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Unexplainable Church

The Unexplainable Church: Reigniting the Mission of the Early Believers *****
by Erica Wiggenhorn

This ten-week Bible study covers Acts 13-28. Each week covers roughly one chapter of Acts. Homework is broken into five daily assignments each week. Each day you read a passage of a scripture or more. There are questions to think through and some commentary by the author.

I enjoy Erica's studies because they seem to have a good balance of thought-provoking questions and commentary. In some Bible studies I've done, the questions seem so easy that I really don't have to think at all. I have been challenged, encouraged, and inspired by studying Acts.

Erica's first study The Unexplainable Life covered Acts 1-12.

I would highly recommend Erica's Bible studies to anyone. She provides free resources if you want to use this as a group study. I've found her studies work great for groups because of the great questions.

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy *****
by Eric Metaxas
Overview: Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor and theologian living in Germany during WW2. Like the title states, he was not only a pastor with a prophetic understanding of the times but also became a spy and a man who eventually gave his life trying to stop Hitler.
Eric Metaxas starts this biography from the very beginning with Bonhoeffer's parents and continues until his death a few weeks before the end of the war. The book is full of letters, quotes, photos, and rich details about this man's amazing life.
Positive elements: A wonderfully written book and powerful story of God's mighty working through Bonhoeffer and so many other men and women during this awful time in history.
Negative elements: Some might see the length of the book (608 pages) as a deterrent, but it is so worth the time to read.
Conclusion: I have wanted to read this hefty book because I have read so many of Bonhoeffer's quotes in other books. He was a genius and had an amazing gift of explaining things about God and about life. He didn't set out to be a great hero; he simply obeyed God day-by-day in a culture that was slowly drifting away from following Jesus and believing the Bible. His story has greatly impacted me.
Historically, I learned a lot about Hitler and WW2 from a German point-of-view, which was very interesting and horrifying.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Day it Snowed Tortillas

The Day it Snowed Tortillas *****
by Joe Hayes

The Day it Snowed Tortillas is a lot of little stories put into one book. My favorite story was "The Thief." It is about three brothers who go to live with their god fathers so they could learn to make money. Their family was poor. The first brother learned to make clothes. And the second brother learned to make shoes. But the third brother learned to be a thief. They can only find work at the palace so the king put the third brother to many tests because he was a thief. And that is why "The Thief" is my favorite story.  
by Sabrina Staples, 9                                                                                              

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Kidnapped Prince: the life of Olaudah Equiano

The Kidnapped Prince: The life of Olaudah Equiano  *****
By Ann Cameron

Overview: This was an awesome book about a black boy who gets kidnapped when he is little, then is sold into slavery. He gets kidnapped with his sister, who the people end up separating from him. He meets his sister one other time in his life, then they never see each other again. This book is about Olaudah's life as a slave, being passed from owner to owner. It's a very hard life. He does meet some people that are very nice to him, though. 

I love this book because it shows how in the end he trusts God even more than he did in the start. There are a lot of parts where only God was the one who rescued him. He has a really hard life, and there are a lot of details. This is also a true story. In 1789, Olaudah published his autobiography. This was a great story!

Positive Elements:  Friendship, and some love

Negative Elements: There is a lot of detail about his really hard life. 

Conclusion:  This was a great book which I think you should read. It would be good for ages 8 & up.

by Summer Staples, 11 



Touch Blue

Touch Blue *****
by Cynthia Lord 

Touch Blue is a book about a family who take in a foster child to keep their school open. On their little island, Tess and Liddy have to learn to get along with Aaron, the new foster child. Tess learns the importance of family, the love that you have to give them, and how important they are to us even if you don't realize it. Aaron learns the importance of trust. He had been to so many foster homes that he had lost trust. Tess has all these lucky things. And one of them is a piece of blue sea glass because the saying is, "Touch blue, and your wish will come."

I think kids 8 and up should read this book because I liked the meaning of the book.

by Sabrina Staples, 9

Monday, June 5, 2017

Life After

Life After *****
by Katie Ganshert
Overview: A passenger train in Chicago is bombed. There is one survivor. This is her story of coming to terms with why she lived and learning how to move forward with her life.

Positive elements: well-written, clean, some good twists

Negative elements: a bit predictable

Conclusion: This is the first book I've read by Katie Ganshert. Initially, I was worried that it might be depressing or graphically violent due to the subject matter. It was neither. I could tell from the near beginning who the heroine was going to fall in love with and almost quit reading the book. I don't enjoy books that are too predictable. But the story began to have some twists just as I was about to quit. So, I kept reading. 

I would recommend this book for a nice, relaxing read. It deals with some serious themes but not in a heavy way. And I loved that it was perfectly clean in every way.

The Lucky Few

The Lucky Few *****
by Heather Avis

Overview: After Heather finds out she can't have children, her and her husband begin pursuing adopting a baby. Then a baby comes up for adoption with Down Syndrome. Despite her considerable medical needs, they decide to adopt her. Over the next few years, God leads them to adopt another daughter out of the foster care system and then a son with Down Syndrome.

Positive elements: well-written, easy to read, powerful story

Negative elements: none

Conclusion: I really enjoyed Heather's honest look at adoption, especially in relation to Down Syndrome. I also enjoyed her perspective on the relationships she has with the birth parents of her children. Each relationship looks different, and she shares some of the things God has taught her through them. The book also has some really cute pictures of her kids.

This is a quick, easy read. You don't get bogged down in many of the actual adoption details or medical details. The book mostly focuses on the kids and how God grows their family in a special way.

This would be an encouraging read for anyone passionate about adoption.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

At Home in the World

At Home in the World *****
by Tsh Oxenreider

Overview: Tsh and her husband Kyle take their three young children on a nine-month trip to visit nineteen countries around the world. She writes about their experiences traveling as a family and her search to find balance between enjoying the comforts of home and traveling the world. She speaks about her search for peace and her struggle with depression. She shares some of her poetry and describes all the amazing food they eat on their travels.

Positive elements: well-written, enjoyable, and a little thought-provoking

Negative elements: made me green with envy to travel the world :)
Conclusion: I love her ponderings on the difference between stability and travel. She quotes monk Thomas Merton on stability, "By making a vow of stability the monk renounces the vain hope of wandering off to find a 'perfect monastery.' This implies a deep act of faith: the recognition that it does not much matter where we are or whom we live with."

Tsh shares a quote from Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
Earth's crammed with heaven,
and every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
the rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries...

She concludes, "I've seen the earth crammed with heaven...Wanderlust and my longing for home are birthed from the same place: a desire to find the ultimate spot this side of heaven...I love finding one more new place to explore, I love sowing it to my kids, and I love wandering those new streets with Kyle. But unless the flickering bushes compel me to remove my shoes, traveling the world will never satisfy. Neither with the daily liturgy of normal life back home. The laundry folding and bill paying would do you in. I'd resign myself to plucking blackberries." 

I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves to travel or the idea of traveling. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Giver

The Giver *****
by Lois Lowry 

Overview: The Giver is about a boy, Jonas, in a world of no color. On the ceremony of twelve, when they turn twelve, all twelve-year-old's get assigned a job. Jonas's job is special. He's been chosen to be the new receiver. The receiver is the man who holds all memories, including memories of colors and feelings. This man shares some of his memories with Jonas of colors, feelings, and pain. In their community, they release the old and the babies that aren't made right. Or if they have a twin, the smaller one is released. Jonas realizes that the people in the community don't have feelings, so they don't know that it's wrong to kill people. The community wants everything to be perfect. The birth mothers give birth to the babies, then the community decides which family they go to. They also arrange marriages. The community arranges everything. But when Jonas's family is given a baby, the baby cries a lot. The community decides that he is to be released, so Jonas runs away from the community with the baby to save it. Find out what happens on Jonas's journey with the baby and more about his life in the community.

Positive elements: There's a a lot of love in the book such as when he loves that baby enough to run away with him.

Negative Elements: It talks a lot about the release (or killing) of the old and young.

Conclusion: I thought this was a great book, that's why I gave it five stars! The author left the end like a mystery, so you could decide what was going to happen. After I read it, I read her speech about it. It was a very interesting speech. I really liked this book and think that you should read it.

By: Summer Staples, 11

Ramona's World

Ramona's World: Ramona takes on fourth grade ***** 
by Beverly Cleary

Overview: Ramona makes a friend, Daisy, who is in fourth grade. They become really great friends. Most of this book is about Ramona wanting to become more responsible like her older sister, Beezus. Ramona has to work through a lot of hard things, like spelling and taking care of her baby sister. Ramona also has to learn how to be kind to her enemies. Her biggest enemy is Susan until the end. Then Ramona realizes why Susan is always such a brat. 

Negative Elements: Ramona is mean in some parts of the book to other people. 

Positive Elements: Ramona learns how to be responsible and kind.

Conclusion: I think this was a great, pretty clean book. I think kids ages nine or ten would like it because Ramona is nine. Have fun finding out what adventures Ramona has in fourth grade!

By: Summer Staples, 11  

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption *****
by Bryan Stevenson

Overview: Bryan Stevenson is a young lawyer working on behalf of forgotten death row inmates. He writes this book about his pursuit for justice for those who have no voice.

Positive elements: well-written, full of information

Negative elements: The book almost had too many details. I had a hard time getting into the story because there were so many stories intertwined. And honestly, all the laws and legal proceedings became tedious. I skimmed the last half of the book.

conclusion: This was a shocking book to read with all the conspiracy that happened in the criminal justice system. And it was a powerful reminder that one young man can save so many lives because he is willing to fight on the behalf of others.

I would love for everyone to read this book, but I think only the serious reader will make it through and enjoy it.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Friends, Partners, and Lovers

Friends, Partners, and Lovers: What it Takes to Make Your Marriage Work *****
by Kevin A. Thompson

Overview: This is a marriage book looking at marriage in three different areas...friends, partners, and lovers. The end of each chapter has a short list of questions to think about or discuss with your spouse.

Positive elements: The writing is straightforward with some stories sprinkled throughout from his counseling experience.  He shares from his own life, too, which I like.

Negative elements: I have read a lot of marriage books and this one isn't earth shattering. But like he said at the end of the book, sometimes just to read a marriage book and be reminding of a few things is worthwhile.

Conclusion: I loved this quote from the book. "Change is a necessary aspect of marriage. Unless you are growing and adapting, your marriage is dying. Healthy couples have the ability to learn and grow. Their greatest teacher is often conflict." This is why I read this book. I don't want my marriage to grow stagnate and eventually die. And I want conflict to strengthen my marriage.

I don't always think about the three elements of marriage, especially the partnership aspect. I liked this quote about partnership. "Partnership at its very best, empowers each individual to experience their full potential while encouraging them to know that in times of weakness, there is always someone who has their back." 

I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to keep on working on his or her marriage. The book is written by a man, but this is a book great for men or women or a couple to read together.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Bible Sleuth: New Testament

Bible Sleuth: New Testament *****
by Jose Perez Montero

Overview: This is a fun look and find book with illustrated stories out of the New Testament.

Positive elements: We have an older version of this book where you had to be able to read to know what you were supposed to "hunt" for. It was always frustrating for my younger kids that they couldn't look at the book on their own.  This new version has pictures of what you have to find. So, that's great.

Negative elements: I mentioned that the book has pictures now of what to find, but there are only a few things to look for on each page. I wish there was more for the kids to hunt for and the objects and people they are looking for are difficult for my young daughter to find.

Conclusion: My four-year-old looks at look and find books every day. This is a fun book, but it just isn't one of her favorites.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Joy the Summer Vacation Fairy

Joy the Summer Vacation Fairy *****
by Daisy Meadows 
Overview: Kristy and Rakil help fairies get their magic items back. This time they’re helping Joy get back three magic shells. The bad guy is Jack Frost and his goblins. They are the ones who steal the fairies’ magic things, but they all have a good ending. The goblins can be funny some times, and they`re not scary.

The books are part of a series, and they all have a map at the front and a poem.   

Positive elements: It had funny parts.

Negative elements: None

Conclusion: I like these books because they`re a fun read for girls. Joy is a special edition so it is like three of the magic fairies books in one, one for each shell there fun easy adventures. I think that kids 7 and up should read this book. 

By Sabrina Staples, 8

Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas

Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas *****
by Jane O'Connor

Fancy Nancy is very fancy, and I think that's why it's called Fancy Nancy. This book is about Christmas. I like the pictures. So I think it is fun to read at Christmas. Fancy Nancy is a fun book for age7 and under.

by Sophie Staples, 6

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Simplest Way to Change the World

The Simplest Way to Change the World *****
by Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements

Overview: Hospitality is a lost art. This book is divided into two sections: the Potential and the Plan. The potential is the argument behind why we should pursue hospitality. The authors talk about some values we have in our society now that fight against hospitality such as the idea that our homes are our own private retreats or that we are just too busy for other people. 

The Plan section was fun to read because it is full of ideas on how to become more hospitable. The authors begin with how to meet your neighbors and continue all the way to fun, neighborhood ideas such as serving free coffee in your driveway one morning a week or BBQing in your front yard instead of out back. 

They share encouraging and challenging stories of the blessings (and hardships sometimes) of getting to know their neighbors.

Positive elements: short, organized and to the point, full of stories and examples

Negative elements: A hospitality book written by two men seems kind of funny since it seems that women are usually the force behind organizing and hosting. However, they do mention the team effort needed between husband and wife. They also encourage singles and young adults to pursue hospitality. And I guess it is interesting to see hospitality from a man's perspective.

Conclusion: This is an encouraging book that makes you want to reach out and invite others into your home and life. I loved the simple ideas like having people over on a regular basis for Taco Tuesday or Waffle Wednesday. So far we have done annual or just random gatherings, but we'd like to start some regular gatherings. Lots of good ideas in this book!


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Iggy's House

Iggy's House *****
by Judy Blume

Overview: Iggy`s House is about a girl that's good friend Iggie moves, and black people move in to her old house. So Winnie,
Iggy`s good friend, tried to be a nice neighbor. But the first week doesn't go as she plans. Read this book and find out what kind of week Winnie has. 

Positive: It has a good ending.

Negative: A very mean lady puts a very rude sign in the new black people's yard.

Conclusion: I think that kids 7 and up should read this book. 

By Sabrina Staples, 8

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Be Bold

Be Bold *****
by Ellen Elliott

This is a beautiful adult coloring book. I love the size of the book and the scripture-themed coloring pages. It's called a devotional coloring book because each coloring page's adjacent page has a scripture verse and a short reading on the day's topic. I was considering giving this to one of my daughters to read and color, but some of the vocabulary in the devotionals is a bit tough. I think this is indeed an adult coloring book.

I gave the book only four stars because I wished it had more scripture. The book is advertised to help you "develop a closer relationship with the Heavenly Father." I think we know God more through reading his word...and hopefully more than one verse each day.

I would recommend this book.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Bud, Not Buddy

Bud, Not Buddy *****
by Christopher Paul Curtis

Overview: Bud, Not Buddy is a book about an orphan who has run away from the people who were taking care of him. He was going to go to the country with a friend, but he doesn't catch the train. So he goes to find his father. Later in the book, he finds out that the man he thought was his father is his grandfather. 

Positive elements: The ending is O.K., but I wish it was happier. 

Negative elements: Bud lies a lot.

Conclusion: I think that kids 8 and up should read this book.

By Sabrina Staples, 8

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Matilda *****
by Roald Dahl

Overview: I thought this was a great book about a super smart girl who is only five years old. She reads grown up books in the library and is super smart. Her dad runs a car business and is a cheater at it. He is super mean to his daughter Matilda and nice to his older son Mike. Matilda goes to a really bad school, and the boss is awful to the children. Matilda struggles through life and also helps her teacher get her home back. Since the boss, Mrs. Trunchbull won't let her skip grades and move up, her brain power has no where to go, so while she's in her class she can make things move with her eyes. In the end, they get rid of Mrs. Trunchbull and get the teacher her house back. And Matilda's parents and brother are running away from the police, so they go to Spain, and let Matilda stay with her teacher.

Negative Elements: Bad name calling.  

Positive Elements: Matilda is smart and kind. The story has some sweet and funny parts, too.

Conclusion: I thought this was a great book, except I thought the ending was a little sad. I gave it five stars. I think you should read this book; I really enjoyed it.

By Summer Staples 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

With Love, Wherever You Are

With Love, Wherever You Are *****
by Dandi Daley MacKall

Overview: It's the beginning of WW2. Frank has just finished medical school and joined the Army as a doctor. Helen has just begun nursing as well as an Army nurse. They meet up at a hospital, and it's love at first sight. They marry and ship off to different stations. They continue to write back and forth throughout the war about their experiences.

Positive elements: perfectly clean, not gruesome

Negative elements: The climax of the story was too forced. Maybe Frank and Helen really did repair their marriage that quickly and easily, but it felt unrealistic. The book was long...too long. By the end, I was skimming the pages. 

Conclusion: This book entriqued me because it is based on Dandi Mackall's parents' relationship. Her father gave her a trunk of all the letters he and his wife passed back and forth while they worked apart during the war. Dandi explains in the back of the book the parts of the story that are true and the parts that are fiction. The story is well put together and there are letters that they sent back and forth in the midst of the story. I appreciated how she just told their story and didn't try to make it overly dramatic. And it isn't written like a sappy romance at all.

I'm always a bit skeptical of fiction books based on true stories because you never truly know where fact and fiction meet.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and would recommend it as an easy-going read.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Dead End in Norvelt

Dead End in Norvelt *****
by Jack Gantos

Overview: Jack ends up grounded for the summer after messing with his Dad's Vietnam rifle. Life is already pretty boring in the small, dying town of Norvelt. Now, his only escape from the house and boredom is helping an old woman in town write obituaries. He gets mixed up in a lot of adventures that summer with this old lady and his friend who dad is the undertaker.

Positive elements: easy to read, full of history, interesting characters but not as fully developed as I would have liked

Negative elements: The book is not as profound or thought provoking as many Newberry winners I've read. Jack also does "pretend cursing" as the book calls it. He doesn't use real swear words, but he words sound close enough so that you know what swear words he's using.

Conclusion: Reading this book kept reminding me of A Long Way from Chicago. It was another Newberry winner about a brother and sister's many summers in a small town with a crazy grandmother. That story was so funny and engaging that I had a hard time getting into Dead End in Norvelt. I just kept comparing the two books. But maybe if I was a middle school aged boy, I would have enjoyed it more. (Especially the parts about the dead bodies in the morge.)

A side note...the author writes himself as the main character, but I didn't see anything to explain that. Is this a bit autobiographical? I was a bit confused about that.

Kingdom Marriage

Kingdom Marriage *****
by Tony Evans

Overview: Kingdom Marriage is a book about God's plan for marriage. The first part of the book talks about the importance of marriage and God's ideal plan for it. The second half of the book is more practical. Tony Evans talks about our roles as husband and wife, prayer in marriage, romance, how to restore a broken marriage, etc.

Positive: a very hope filled book about marriage

Negatives: Tony Evans has a strange view on angles that I've never heard before. He only talks about it briefly in one chapter, but it was still strange. Other than that, I thought the book was full of wise advice.

Conclusion: My husband and I really enjoyed reading this book together a little at a time. The first part of the book is a bit dry and is written like a sermon. However, don't give up. The second half becomes very practical. My favorite chapter was on "Roles." We could see how we need to be better encouraging and building one another up. We were both very encouraged by the book.

His Last Words

His Last Words *****
by Kim Erickson

This is a verse-by-verse study through John 13-17. The study is for seven weeks with homework for five days a week. Each day you read a short passage from John. The book has each verse you read for the day printed out with space next to it for notes. The idea is you ask the question about each verse, "What does this tell me about God?" Then you have space to write next to each verse your response to that question. Then the author writes some more commentary and has some other questions to think through. There are also questions you can use in a group study.

I just went through the Bible study An Unexplainable Life published by Moody. I enjoyed that verse-by-verse study a lot more. It was a different format, but I found the author's commentary much more helpful in that study. I do like that this study encourages you to slowly think through each verse though. However, I think you'd be just as well off to get a note pad and make your own list of what you learn about God as you read each verse.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Katharina and Martin Luther

Katharina and Martin Luther *****
by Michelle DeRusha

Overview: The marriage of Martin Luther and Katharina Von Bora was a bit scandalous at the time since Luther was a monk and Von Bora a nun. So how did they end up married? DeRusha uses letters from Martin Luther to piece together the story of their marriage and their life together.

Positive elements: well-written, interesting, easy to read

Negative elements: DeRusha admits that much of the story, especially from Katharina's point of view, is a mystery since we don't have many of her letters. So, some of the book includes speculation about their relationship. DeRusha does do a good job of pointing out some of the different theories that people have about some of the disputed points.

Conclusion: I tried to read another book about Luther and Katharina and put it down. It was basically a romance novel created about their story. This book is not written like a novel. It's written like a history book. Not only did I learn about the importance of their marriage, but the far reaching effects of Martin Luther and his reformation on marriage in general. She starts from Katharina's and Martin's childhoods and takes you all through their lives. It's truly a fascinating read.

This is an interesting book I'd recommend for men or women.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.


Harvest *****
by Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis

This is a beautiful, hard covered, full-color book. The book is divided into three sections by harvest time: early, mid, and late. Each plant has a picture and description on one page and the next page has a project or recipe. 

I never knew that lilacs were edible. There is a recipe for making lilac perfume that you can wear or cook with. And I didn't know bachelor buttons were edible. There is a recipe for making a beautiful butter with petals mixed in. I think those will be my first two recipes to try out.

The garden behind this book is in California so some of the plants won't grow well up here in Idaho. But, I'm looking forward to trying some new plants that will do well up here.

This book would also make a great gift for a gardener or cook.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Chasing Slow

Chasing Slow *****
by Erin Loechner

Overview: This was such an usual book in a delightful way. Erin writes her story of seeking to balance her successful work life with a sane schedule at home. The first half of the book is called "Chasing More" and tells of her growing up, marrying a man with a "short life span" due to a tumor, moving, having her first baby, great success with her blog, her father-in-law's death, etc.
The second half of the book is called "Chasing Slow."  She talks about simplifying her life, learning how to not be a hyprocrite with an "online" life and her real life, mothering, surrender, etc.

I think the essence of the book is found in this quote from the last chapter:
"I have chased more and I have chased less. I have lived large and I have lived small. I have sped up, slowed down, traded up, pared down, built myself up, fallen down. But have I looked up? Laid it down? Perhaps we were never meant to change the pace. We were meant to surrender it."  
Positive: This book is beautiful to read. The paper is very smooth, the pictures colorful, the hard back and square size lovely. I also enjoyed all the sidebars such as: "Five Reactions to a Home Birth" or "Life Lessons from a Frugal Mother." Some funny, some serious, some seriously funny! I have read quite a few books from people who have become famous blogging. Usually they are better at blogging than writing books. But this book was wonderful.

Negative: Erin comes to the conclusion that the answer to a balanced life is surrender. She mentions God a few times, but she doesn't really explain what it means to surrender to God's working in your life. And if you don't really trust and believe in a God who loves you, how can you surrender your life to Him?

Conclusion: I really enjoyed this book! We live in this strange, fast, online world. I was encouraged not to get sucked into having a Pinterest life and lots of Facebook friends, but to realize my real life's treasures are the normal people all around me each day. Purse face-to-face friendships. Don't let your possessions bog you down. And ultimately, the slow or peaceful life is one surrendered to God and not lived in constant worry.

I borrowed this book for free from the library!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Charlie and the Choclate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory *****
by Roald Dahl 

Overview: This was a great book about a boy Charlie who finds a golden ticket. With this golden ticket, he gets to go on a tour of the chocolate factory with Willy Wonka. Four other kids go, too. Willy Wonka was trying to see who will own the chocolate factory when he gets too old. All the other kids are too greedy and all sorts of things happen to them.

Negative Elements: There are some scary and weird parts.

Positive Elements: The naughty kids learn a lesson, and it has a happy ending.  

Conclusion: This was a great book! I loved the movie, but the book is way better. I think you should read it! 

By Summer Staples, 10 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Abel's Island

Abel's Island *****
by William Steig

Abel's Island is a book about a mouse that gets stranded on an island, and he has to survive on the island for a whole year! Then he has to get back to his wife Amanda, and she is a mouse. Abel learns how to be tough and work hard. I think that people 8 and up should read this book because it has a lot of hard words in it. It is a really good book.

by Sabrina Staples, 8      

Men Who Love Fierce Women

Men Who Love Fierce Women *****
by Leroy and Kimberly Wagner

This is a book written for men on how to love and lead their wives, especially wives who tend to try to take over. Leroy Wagner shares very openly about the struggles in their marriage. He and his wife were both Christians serving in the church. They were committed to their marriage, but they were both very unhappy and felt doomed to a life of misery and fighting. He shares about how God moved in both of their lives and convicted them both of sin. Leroy showed how they were able to build new healthy patterns and learn to love and serve each other in meaningful ways.

A few years back, Kim wrote Fierce Women for women. I haven't read that book, but in this book I really liked being able to hear them both share and see things from a male and female perspective. The book also has a lot of scripture in it and is so full of hope!

My husband and I found this book really helpful. It opened our eyes to some unhealthy patterns in our marriage and offered us hope as we seek to understand God's design for our marriage...a marriage where we respect, honor, and lift each other up. We both highly recommend this book.